COUNCIL Chairman, Jim McElroy, has lent his support to a campaign asking people in their 30s and 40s to pay more attention to their heart health.
That’s because they are failing to share in the downward trend of deaths from cardiovascular disease.
The number of lives claimed by diseases of the circulatory system has been in steady decline in Northern Ireland – from 5,272 in 2004 to 4,485 in 2009, the last year for which figures are available. But deaths in the under 55s have remained roughly the same, at around 250. The vast majority are caused by heart disease and stroke, which have similar risk factors.
Carla Smyth, NI Chest Heart & Stroke Appeals Co-ordinator in Banbridge, said: “Anecdotal evidence suggests that an increasing number of younger men are suffering heart attacks without any previous warning. While some die, those who survive are left with lasting physical effects and are at risk of subsequent heart attacks. Men especially need to know the risks because they tend to visit the doctor less often.”
“The issue is the subject of the charity’s Have a Heart Week, from 14-19 February. Coronary heart disease is caused by a fatty build-up in the arteries. In many people this causes angina, or chest pain, allowing them to seek treatment. But in some it remains undiagnosed because there are no physical symptoms.”
Have a Heart Week is designed to raise awareness of heart conditions, and to raise much-needed funds for research in Northern Ireland’s hospitals and universities.
The Chief Executive of NI Chest Heart & Stroke, Andrew Dougal said: ”In someone with undiagnosed coronary artery disease, all it takes is something like running up the stairs or other strenuous activity to put a huge strain on the heart. That’s why the aim of this year’s campaign is to alert people to the risk factors – smoking, high cholesterol, obesity, elevated blood pressure, diabetes, physical inactivity and family history. If you have one or more of them, it’s important to seek advice, particularly if you are a man, because you are more at risk of heart attack at an earlier age.”
The NICHS advice line is 08457 697299 (local rate from anywhere in Northern Ireland).